1. How did you get your start performing in drag?
I had been reading a lot about gender, queerness, masculinity and
performance. And I'd been seeing what drag king performances I could
see around that time. This was late 90's. Most of what I was seeing
were these hyper-masculine stereotypes and modes being expressed. The
construction worker, the sleazy playboy, the boy band pop star, anyone
from the Village People and what I wasn't seeing was the kind of
masculinity that I saw around me most often. The dad who goes to work
every day with a brief case and works at a desk and has a kid or two.
He might have soft hands, but he's still a guy. And I started building
Heywood's character around these ideas. In February 2000, on
Valentine's day Heywood Wakefield made is debut at a contest and won.
I did a dance for my then girlfriend to "Love will keep us together"
by Neil Sedaka and the rest is history.
2. What do you see as some of the greatest strengths and weaknesses of
the greater Boston drag scene?
Boston is tough. There are limited venues where drag shows are easy to
put on. Any time you find a place and build an audience and have a
good run it's a triumph. I think this leads to some separation in the
"scene" where not all the kings and queens hang out or even do shows
together. It's even hard to find some the performance that is
happening because "the scene" is fractured. On the other hand, there
are a lot of schools that focus on art and performance and that floods
the area with great and fresh talent. I feel really blessed to have
worked with some of the most talented and edgy performers who
challenge gender and I look forward to much more of it.
3. Why do you feel that drag performers appeal to such a widely diverse crowd?
There's something for everyone. There's a sense of mystery and
sexuality that is appealing to people of all genders and sexualities.
And when the performance is challenging and exciting people are drawn
to it. The initial "is it a guy? Is it a girl?" impulse is over come
by the idea, "this is a great number, I was taken to another place…"
4. Do you have your costumes professionally made, do you do it
yourself, are you able to buy off the rack?
Mostly I buy vintage and have them altered. I love thrifting anyway,
so I'm buying for Heywood and myself. We hardly ever wear the same
clothes. Sometimes I'll add flash to heywood's outfits. But he's
pretty understated. His big issue is that he's a guy living in 2006
but he stopped buying clothes in the 70's when he was in his 20's. His
lesbian daughter is always trying to help him with that, but her taste
isn't that great either.
5. How did TraniWreck get its start and did you predict what it has become?
I couldn't have predicted any of it. TraniWreck and Wreckage have been
a blast. We've (me and the folks in the loose thing I call "the cast")
put on so many amazing performances and nurtured so many local and
international performers, it's really been outstanding. People in the
International drag scene check in with me about the shows and what's
happening in Boston so word is getting out and I'm really proud of
that. Some drag is about impersonation, impressions, and imitation.
Our drag is about innovation, invention and irreverent gender(fuck)
performance. I'm not interested in kings and queens who look exactly
like someone they are emulating. It's an amazing skill, but it's not
where my heart is at. I wanted to be challenged on many levels and
I'll keep looking for performers and performances that do this for me.
This is what people have come to expect from Truth Serum, TraniWreck,
and Wreckage and I'm happy to try to keep providing it.
6. How did Wreckage start and how do you explain the jump in interest
this year as compared to last?
We ran Wreckage differently this year than last. Last year I let the
TraniWreck cast compete in the competition. They were scored on a
curve to balance everything more fairly. This year they aren't
competing and took over as judges, which worked great until our
friends started competing! I think word of mouth and the excitement
about the loose community of performers attached to the shows got
people out to compete and to see the shows. Then things just built.
Our final show last year was huge and this year we decided to take it
to a space that could work for us better for this size show. People
who've only followed TraniWreck and Wreckage much be surprised about
the venue change, but I've been producing shows in clubs all over
boston/Cambridge and New England really, since the mid 90's so, it's
not that unusal. Great Scott is on the T, it's open until 2am, it's
18+ and they're excited to have us. I'm looking forward to seeing if
we can make the show happen there occasionally and at other clubs
also. Jacque's was a great home for my shows for a while but now it's
time to change it up. We might keep it monthly, or do larger shows
less often. I'm still planning. After the 20th, I've got a show at the
Midway in JP on the 8th of Dec. which will be a TraniWreck and friends
7. Big plans for 2007?
Heywood has a bunch of gigs in the works in other cities including
some in Canada. He'll be hitting nyc a couple of times before the end
of the year even. (it's a big change from the karaoke bars on route 1
where he got his start!) Truth Serum will continue to produce the kind
of shows people have grown to expect from us…edgy, challenging
performances, bands and films from locals as well as national and
international talents. Personally I'll be finding more ways to support
art and culture in Boston and I'll getting back to practicing
architecture by day. I've been spending time building Truth Serum and
certain shows. Now they are able to continue with less babysitting and
it's time to get back to my other love, which is making buildings.
So…if there are any folks working at firms out there, drop me a line.
I'm great at managing a million people at the same time and meeting
deadlines. Plus, I'm great at working with sensitive artist types…it
all translates really well.